Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of starting a blog? I get it. There is so much information out there, it can be daunting. Where do you start? What’s even necessary?
The thing is, most of the blogging advice out there is for people who actually have a blog, which is great, but you’re not there yet. You just need to get started and all the great blogging tips and advice out there is getting in the way.
In an effort to help point you in the right direction, I’ve put together this step-by-step guide to starting a WordPress blog. Now keep in mind you’re not going to find any tips on getting people to your blog. That’s a post for another time. Instead, the sole focus of this post is to provide you with a checklist that you can use to get your blog up and running.
Step 1 | Buy a Domain
First up is a domain which you will need as self-hosted WordPress requires it. And besides, a domain makes your blog easy to access and remember. I recommend Namecheap for purchasing a domain as I like to keep my domain and hosting separate (it makes transferring hosts easier!). But of course, if you want to take advantage of one of those “get a free domain with hosting” deals, then by all means, go ahead.
Step 2 | Purchase Hosting
Since self-hosted WordPress is, yup you guessed it, self-hosted, you’re going to need hosting. Hosting is not the time to cheap out, so invest if possible. Of course, that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Look for shared hosting or WordPress managed hosting, both of which are affordable. My picks are Siteground or Flywheel.
Step 3 | Point Your Domain to Your Host
If you purchased your domain through someone other than your host, you’ll need to point your domain to your host (if you purchased your domain through your host, go to step 4). Your host should provide you with nameservers so copy them down and head over to your domain registrar. Under the settings for your domain there will be a section for using custom nameservers. Paste the nameservers your host provided for you, give it a bit of time to update, and you’ll be ready to move on to the next step.
Step 4 | Install WordPress
Once you’ve got your domain and hosting all situated, it’s time to install WordPress. Login to your control panel and look for a 1-click installer or the WordPress logo. Then follow the on-screen prompts. And remember, when choosing an admin username don’t use “admin,” “administrator,” or even your name or the name of your blog. Make it something that no one would guess.
Step 5 | Setup WordPress
After installing WordPress, click on over to your WordPress dashboard. Before we do anything else, we’re going to clean up our dashboard a bit. Go ahead and delete unused themes and plugins, change your displayed name, update your permalinks, delete sample pages and posts, and set the correct time zone.
Step 6 | Install a Theme
By default, your WordPress blog comes with the Twenty Sixteen theme activated. Now if that’s not your style, look into installing a new theme. You can download a free one from the WordPress theme directory, or you can invest in a premium one from a host of different theme shops (I personally recommend Studiopress).
Step 7 | Create Pages and Add to Menu
There are a few things every blog needs, two of which are pages. The first page is an about page. This page will likely be one of the most visited pages on your blog as it tells your readers who you are, what they can expect, and what value they’ll be provided. The second page is a contact page. Eventually people will want to get in contact with you, so make it easy for them to do so by listing your contact information (i.e. your email address). Want to take it a step further? Install a contact form plugin such as Gravity Forms of Ninja Forms.
Step 8 | Write Your First Blog Post
By this point you have a basic blog setup. The only thing missing is blog posts! Get writing and create a value packed post that your readers will love. When it’s all ready to go, categorize it, and hit publish.
Step 9 | Tell the World!
Yay! Your new blog is up and running! Now you can continue blogging into the abyss, but your blog won’t grow as no one knows it exists. Get out there and start networking. Share your posts on social media. If your content is valuable and resonates with people, your little blog will start to grow. But it will take time, so keep that in mind!